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Wednesday, February 10, 1999 Published at 15:16 GMT


Mother to challenge soldiers

The scene of the shooting in Catholic west Belfast

The mother of a Belfast teenager shot dead by two soldiers has been given permission to challenge the decision to allow them to stay in the army.

The BBC's Denis Murray reports
Jean McBride's 18-year-old son Peter was shot in the back by Scots Guards James Fisher and Mark Wright in the New Lodge area of west Belfast during 1992.

The High Court in Belfast has given her permission to apply for a judicial review of a Ministry of Defence decision to allow them to return to their regiment.

[ image: Peter McBride: Shot after search found nothing]
Peter McBride: Shot after search found nothing
Mr Justice Kerr ruled there was a case for further investigation, but warned Mrs McBride: "That in no way is to be taken as a forecast of the outcome of what is obviously a very difficult case."

Mrs McBride, who was in court with her daughters Roisin and Martha, said she was delighted.

"I'm so relieved that someone is finally taking notice of me," she said.

"Peter's death isn't getting any easier after almost seven years. But if I get my day in court I'll be happy."

At their trial it emerged that Fisher and Wright had found nothing during a search of the teenager, but opened fire when he ran away.

[ image: James Fisher: Soldiers thought Peter McBride had bomb]
James Fisher: Soldiers thought Peter McBride had bomb
The soldiers always maintained they thought the victim was carrying a coffee jar bomb.

After their release, the MoD decided they could stay on in the army after a massive campaign by supporters.

In court on Wednesday, Michael Lavery QC said Mrs McBride was the victim, and had a right to be involved in the treatment of persons convicted of unlawful conduct.

"That has been recognised in recent legislation arising out of the Good Friday Agreement dealing with the release of prisoners," he said.

[ image: Mark Wright:
Mark Wright: "Exceptional circumstances" allowed army return
Opposing the application, a government lawyer said Mrs McBride appeared to be saying the two soldiers should suffer further punishment and lose their careers.

This is the first time such an application has been granted against the MoD, which intends to mount a vigorous challenge to the move.

Mrs McBride's solicitor Paul O'Connor said they now hoped to quash the MoD's decision on the grounds that it was unlawful and in breach of Queen's Regulations.

These say that members of the armed forces convicted of murder must be dismissed unless an Army Board finds that "exceptional circumstances" exist.

Jean McBride insists no such circumstances existed in her son's case.

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